Everywhere we go today or everything that we use is either entirely made up of plastic or has some plastic ingredient. Look around, from food items wrapping to clothes to footwear to carrying our materials to toys to cell phones and computers to medicines plastic is present everywhere. It has very well molded the society […]
Everywhere we go today or everything that we use is either entirely made up of plastic or has some plastic ingredient. Look around, from food items wrapping to clothes to footwear to carrying our materials to toys to cell phones and computers to medicines plastic is present everywhere. It has very well molded the society both for convenience and safety. Today we can hardly think of anything or see any item that is not made of plastic. This clearly proves that plastic is one of the most important invention of the last century which has managed to become the most popular building material of millions of useful items. Although plastics have has a remarkable impact there is a price to be paid for its use. And the environment and its components are paying a price for such a deadly invention.
Plastic is a synthetic or semi- synthetic organic solid that is moldable. They have high molecular mass and are commonly derived from petrochemicals. Most plastics are organic polymers. They carbon atom is strongly linked with the oxygen, sulphur or nitrogen atom. The average content of additive is 20% of the polymer’s weight. Origin of plastic is dated in 1600 BC when Mesoamericans used natural rubber for making balls, figurines and bands. After the First World War improvement in chemical technologies led to an explosion in plastic manufacturing giving birth to new polymers. Parkesine is considered to be the first ever man- made plastic. Plastic is considered to be a blessing in disguise for humans as it is widely used in every possible field. It properties are – hardness, density and resistance to heat.
The usage of plastic has reduced human burden. It has great industrial and commercial use. It has manifold advantages like plastics are light in weight and durable, can be molded easily, possess good shock absorption capacity, are water- resistant, have good adhesiveness, are corrosion resistant and chemically inert, they are strong and cheap to produce, can be recycled, have thermal insulating property, are unbreakable and can be used again and again and are odourless. Plastics are used in building, electronics, construction, packaging and transportation industries.
The extensive use of plastics in domestic as well as industrial sector is a cause of worry. It has also replaced paper bags which were environment friendly. The main advantage of plastic is also the reason why it is such a big problem – it lasts forever and does not degrade quickly. It is this destructive property that has several disastrous consequences on both environment and living organisms.
A single plastic bag takes 1000 years to decay completely and hence they stay in the environment for a long period of time. Since plastic is non- biodegradable the only way to get rid of them is by burning them, but the toxic fumes released only add up to the air pollution level. Polythene bags dumped on the roadsides litter the roads. Some also find way into the sewage and drains choking them. Plastic bags has three times more greenhouse gas impact than a reusable green bag. They also pollute the underground water making it unfit for drinking and irrigation. Plastic accumulation in landfill also becomes a breeding ground for innumerable diseases. Plastics are generally by- products of petroleum. If plastic is incinerated, it increases carbon emission which directly leads to climate change.
It is reported that every year as many as 1,00,000 whales, turtles, birds and various other marine animals die due to suffocation because of the presence of plastic in their environment. Unsuspecting animals eat plastics dumped on the streets resulting ultimately in their death. The amount of plastics floating on our beautiful and rich oceans is increasing drastically. They find way into the riverbeds making them infertile to support vegetation. Plastics also disrupt the food chain affecting a large number of species in one go.
Chemicals like phthalates and BPA in plastics interfere with our natural hormones levels and cause serious damage to both men and women. The toys while small children use are potentially made of plastic and if consumed chock them and cause serious damage. Plastics being non-renewable cannot be recycled. Plastic pollution creates eyesore.
A show called Satyameva Jayate on the television sometime back in march should how plastic is increasingly becoming a burden on us. It was reported that in Chennai plastic was molded and used in making of roads. These roads last 15 years longer than normal roads. Some malls and shops have even banned the use of polythene bags and few even charge money for such bags. The call of this hour is such kind of inventions which help in reducing the quantity of plastics as well as use it in a way beneficial to the country.
These problems have raised a question of how can we tackle the problems arising from usage of plastic. Hence like a demon in the making, plastic continues to haunt our environment. Paper bags are a possible alternative to plastic bags. Cloth bags are a favorite option among environmental supporters. The real answer is to re-design plastic products. There is an immediate need for checking this menace before it acquires gigantic proportion and cause a greater imbalance in the ecosystem. We should start educating people about the dangers of using plastic. Usage of plastic in packaging sector should also be reduced because this is the area where it is grossly being abused. There must be strict enforcement of laws in this context. This is the least we can do to leave a clean and friendly environment for our future generations, as had inherited by us.